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A Spy In the House of Love (Cities of the Interior #4)

3.67  ·  Rating Details ·  4,162 Ratings  ·  299 Reviews
A Spy in the House of Love is one of the most celebrated novels ever written on the psyche and sexuality of women. It explores the inner world of a fascinating and complex woman whose affairs with four men express all the duplicity and fragmentation of self involved in the search for love.
Paperback, 124 pages
Published 1973 by Penguin (first published 1954)
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Lynne King
Jul 20, 2013 Lynne King rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anais-nin
A taster: “Desire made a volcanic island, on which they lay in a trance, feeling the subterranean whirls lying beneath them……The trembling premonitions shaking the hands, the body, made dancing……..They fled from the eyes of the world……where there were no words by which to possess each other….. unbearable but only one ritual, a joyous, joyous impaling of woman on a man’s sensual mast.”

But “who is Sabina? What is she?”

I’ve read Anaïs Nin’s “Journal of a Wife” (The Early Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1923-27
Oct 15, 2010 LaRaie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I want to take a moonbath
Jul 05, 2013 Mariel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the secret self unveiled
Recommended to Mariel by: firebirds
He turned his eyes, now a glacial blue, fully upon her. They were impersonal and seemed to gaze beyond her at all women who had dissolved into one, but who might at any moment again become dissolved into all.
This was the gaze Sabina had always encountered in Don Juan, everywhere; it was the gaze she mistrusted.
It was the alchemy of desire fixing itself upon the incarnation of all women into Sabina for a moment but as easily by a second process able to alchemize Sabina into many others.

I rememb
Apr 14, 2008 Angie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anaïs Nin crafts stunning (and self-destructive?) descriptions of the many insecurities and anxieties of being a woman. This book, although sometimes a bit trite, completely floored me. I'm resonating in her language, almost in disbelief at having familiar issues so beautifully and boldy presented. I actually found myself caught up in her adept confessions of the sometimes banal main character, and was often reading on for pages before realizing that I needed to slow down and let some of the min ...more
Mar 20, 2013 Dolors rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Maybe because I expected a much simpler tale or maybe because I had higher expectations about what this book would be like, but somehow I couldn't help but feeling deceived by this story.
The short summary at the back cover seemed promising enough: a haunted woman, Sabina, who is unable to remain faithful to her husband Alan. She is helplessly attracted to total strangers and finally driven into fruitless affairs which leave her feeling restless, guilty and edgy. But at the same time, she can't l
Jul 13, 2013 Gearóid rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french-lit
My first Anais Nin book so i did'nt know what to expect really.
But what i discovered was a beautifully written book.Very descriptive
and an over powering sense of the anxiety Sabina was suffering in
the story.Such an edgy restless character.
I did'nt think it was so erotic....just a study of the guilt and
anxiety of Sabina who was trying to find love and didnt seem to really
know what she was looking for or could'nt find it all in one place.

Felt a bit sorry for her husband who didnt have a clue what
Feb 06, 2010 Adrienne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: erotica
All I am going to say is this is an amazing piece of work, readng it is a sensuous experience,one to be savoured and thought about. Anais Nin has captured perfectly the feelings of many women who are torn between being wife,lover,mother,child,friend and mentor and how all those facets of our personality come together to create the person we are. If words acould be turned into something tangible this read would be (for me) Calvados, Shalimar perfume and cigar smoke, Exotic and mysterious, with ju ...more
Marisa Fernandes
"Uma Espia na Casa do Amor" deixou-me indecisa entre as 2 e as 3 estrelas... A verdade é que quando me questiono se gostei do livro não consigo dizer que não gostei, mas também não consigo dizer que gostei.
A meu ver a obra tem um argumento com tudo para dar um livro interessante, no mínimo "agitante": uma mulher que apesar de viver com um homem que a ama decide ausentar-se, de vez em quando, alegando razões profissionais, mas tudo o que faz nesses períodos é experimentar o amor de outros homens
Aug 12, 2013 Bethan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: regular-fiction
The theme of this book is infidelity - Sabina, the main character, commits infidelity and it's about her thoughts and experiences about that.

Nin is very avant garde a writer and this is both her strength and failing. I get a sense that the writer is continually and self-consciously striving and pushing for showy image and style. As a result substance can often suffer for that. Often this novel feels thin and insubstantial. The characters are not well-developed - the men are like caricatures or
What I remember most from my first reading of this book is the feeling of disappointment when I was done. That there was no resolution, no final report,and not even a character I could bond with.In fact, the characters rather repelled me.They seemed to lack substance. I felt like I had stumbled in to the wrong party,and instead of the crowd of witty friends I was expecting,I was confronted with an aimless group of earnest strangers.

From the perspective of years,I can see how I may have been vas
Jul 31, 2007 Shilo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people in stale relationships that started too young
Shelves: yikes
beautifully written, a tale of a dissolving marriage.

personally, I spent nearly the entirety of the book thinking that had this woman used some autonomy in her early adulthood and perhaps didn't jump into marriage so young, her questioning would have been resolved as a normal part of growing up and with far less emotional expense.

But really, it's a different era, and I'm a different kind of woman. I found it incredibly difficult to relate.
It seems to me that most of her problems would have been
Jul 15, 2013 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nin
I think that Nin's writing is always outstanding. This was no different. The story was not erotic at all, but followed Sabine, who has multiple love affairs. It gives you a glimpse of her guilt and her thought processes. I found it quite sad actually, as it seems like she felt estranged from everything and was never contented.
Gabrielle Scabellone
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I wouldn't advise reading this if you are working the nightshift in a Siberian coalmine: these are strictly poor-little-rich-girl problems.

But that's not to say that Sabina isn't very unhappy and deserving of our sympathy, and that Nin doesn't write very well.

I just think Mary McCarthy probably did it better: a sense of humour, and characters taking themselves a bit less seriously.

There's no escaping that Sabina's problems could have been solved by either:
a) A job. An early Peggy at Sterling C
Alan Chen
May 27, 2014 Alan Chen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is my introduction to Anais Nin and I'm extremely impressed. Nin has a style in her writing that is unique in both flow and grace. Her writing is extremely sensuous and evocative of the mood she creates without being tawdry. Sabina is a 30 something woman who is worldly, beautiful, and craves love. She's been married to her husband for 10 years but loves him more as a father figure than as a husband. She cheats on him with a variety of men but each allow her to be a dimension of hersel ...more
Feb 27, 2015 Morgan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
I first discovered Nin last year actually. Read a sample of her diary in a comic book anthology I own. Ended up really liking her. Thankfully my mom owns three of her books. This one being the first that was published the earliest.

I wouldn't start with this book though. I feel like I made the mistake reading an authors wok in chronological order this time. Most of the times I try to do that to see how a writer writes, but I felt like I was missing something with this one. Is there a book before
First Anais Nin I've ever read...basically, the story of a woman who is deeply vulnerable and unstable. Throughout the story, Sabina slips in and out of sexual encounters with different men although she seems to derive her deepest happiness from a man named Alan, who represents somewhat of a father figure. Although she deeply admires him and even might love him, Sabina is so unstable that she cannot seem to stop her infidelities, even though she is racked with guilt and paranoia afterward. Her e ...more
Jan 07, 2015 Heleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know no one who evokes the extremes of emotion and physical sensation as convincingly as Anaïs Nin. Exactly that might be the problem. There is no pause in the intensity of her prose. It's arresting, yes, breathless, certainly - restless, desperate, at times despairingly hopeful, and it's all of these things at once. Her sentences never stutter before gaining momentum again. They gallop along, endlessly, with sweat on their tongues, urged on by a writer who doesn't believe in taking a breath w ...more
Debbie Robson
Jan 02, 2012 Debbie Robson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having already read one of Nin's erotic short story collections, I (wrongly) presumed that this novel was a similar type of work. How wrong could I be! This is (for me anyway) a brilliant evocation of a lost soul. Sabina moves between her sheltered, relatively happy life with Alan to her restless wanderings of nightclubs, the beach and Mambo's club. During the course of this short novel we meet three of her men. My favourite is the flyer from the war who has seen death and like Sabina can't live ...more
Sarah Coe
Sep 03, 2007 Sarah Coe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone feeling in need of a little sexy danger
Shelves: sexysexy
Anais Nin is brilliant at capturing the essence of female sensuality, mystery and complexity. Reading Nin feels like taking a warm, candle-lit bath while drinking a glass of good red wine.
Mar 04, 2009 Janet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to be Anais Nin... couldn't manage the eyelashes. Prefer her fiction to her diary, and this is my favorite--the ghost of June Miller everywhere here.
Theresa Wasiloski
So... I think "fecund" was Nin's favorite word while writing this book.

And it kind of grosses me out.

What I liked most about this book were the insights- into the hiding, lies and guilt, particularly. While reading A Spy I had several of those "yes, i understand that completely" moments, which I appreciated. Also, the on-fireness of Sabina I thought was relatable. Consume, consume, consume.
And I liked the idea of moonbathing.

What bothered me most was that I felt no sympathy or compassion for
Jul 20, 2015 Maura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are those who view Sabina as a hero and those who view her as a villain. I can not change the mind of one who dismisses this book because they are not interested in her life and her experiences. A Spy In The House of Love is very much Sabina's mental anguish, her uncertainty and her conscience wrestling within itself and if you've no interest in her, you will not be interested in her story.
This is a book about a woman who, quite simply, has affairs. Plural. I find it quite easy to find tal
Oh god, this book is incredible. Thank you Anais Nin!

I'm sure it's not the only book out there that covers this topic, but it's the only one I've read, where a woman who sleeps around is neither a slut nor a whore, but simply a lost being who is in search of love and who thinks that sex can be transformed into it. She is not judged by anyone but herself. She is not shamed for her actions, except by herself. She is driven by need and held back by guilt, and lives a half life in which she is thro
Aug 10, 2016 Sophie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
the novel follows Sabina, a woman who dares to explore her feminine sexuality in search of true love. as she remembers her various love interests, she feels guilty of her lifestyle, torn between the yearning to pursuit her desires and the strain to sustain her relationship with her husband, Alan, her "security blanket", who she feels she has to protect.

the writing style was poetic and melancholic, while the narrative device was stream of consciousness, which is a technique that i absolutely ado
Sep 03, 2016 Taylor rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1-star, my-library
Gosh, this was dull and drear.
I felt like it just dragged on and on (which it did) as it laid on my bed side table for 4 months with only 10 pages left, of which I couldn't even bring myself to finish until now.
The moving from locations and times, for one, was just so incredibly messy. I was attached to absolutely no characters, nor interested or invested in them. The plot bored me. It was all a great shame because some of the authors other works I've read were very artistic and really beautiful
Aug 18, 2015 Linley rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: difficult-women
This is the second Anais Nin book I've read this year and even though she was highly recommended by a good friend, I don't think I can handle reading any more. I will acknowledge that Nin is a competent writer who made important contributions to feminist literature. I appreciate that her emotional frankness paved the way for other female authors like Sylvia Plath and Margaret Atwood to share their unique experiences as women trying to find and define themselves in a cold, masculine world. I unde ...more
Bev Spicer
Aug 22, 2013 Bev Spicer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this when I was young enough to believe that I could, if I wished, ‘be’ Sabina. I had already devoured most of D H Lawrence’s novels and been impressed, as only a pretentious undergraduate can be, with this (or any) kind of angst-ridden literature, so I was ready for more and was inclined to believe that Anais Nin would go deeper in, as it were, and stay there for longer.
A third of a century later, I downloaded the English version to my kindle and plunged in once again. What I found was a
Alika Yarnell
Jul 28, 2016 Alika Yarnell added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Self-absorbed, promiscuous, wanna-be actresses
Shelves: fiction
There were parts of this book that I enjoyed, but most of it left me annoyed and I couldn’t wait for it to end. Luckily, it’s a short book, otherwise I don’t think I would’ve made it through all the way. The writing is so rambling, heavy-handed, and tedious that I never cared about Sabina (the main character) or her many lovers. I was more interested in the “lie detector,” but he only appeared briefly at the beginning and end of the book. It took me awhile to get used to Nin’s style, which seeme ...more
This book is so poetic and beautifully written I feel slightly guilty for giving it such a low rating.
The story follows Sabina who is married to Alan but sleeps with Philip, Jay, Mambo and John.
She starts out as a character you have sympathy for, she paints herself as so many different things that to the public and to the reader she is a wife neglected, then a daughter beaten, then a lover scorned.
She is so many different people that by the end of the book her true self emerges and she is a p
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French-born novelist, passionate eroticist and short story writer, who gained international fame with her journals. Spanning the years from 1931 to 1974, they give an account of one woman's voyage of self-discovery. "It's all right for a woman to be, above all, human. I am a woman first of all." (from The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. I, 1966)

Anaïs Nin was largely ignored until the 1960s. Today she is
More about Anaïs Nin...

Other Books in the Series

Cities of the Interior (5 books)
  • Ladders to Fire
  • Children of the Albatross (Cities of the Interior #2)
  • The Four-Chambered Heart: V3 in Nin's Continuous Novel
  • Seduction of the Minotaur

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“The enemy of a love is never outside, it's not a man or a woman, it's what we lack in ourselves.” 173 likes
“I prefer empty cages, Sabina, until I find a unique bird I once saw in my dreams.” 57 likes
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